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Create Your Own Backyard Fishpond

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Building Your Pond

Building Your Pond
Creating your own garden pool isn’t for everyone. A lot of planning and digging are required to make a water feature that will last for years. (Keith Sutton photo)

To begin creating your garden pond, you’ll need these items:

  1. A piece of rope or garden hose at least as long as the circumference of your pond
  2. The pond liner, flexible or rigid
  3. A shovel and rake
  4. Some clean sand
  5. Some old newspapers
  6. Some flat rocks to place around the pond’s edge

If you’re using a flexible liner, the rope or hose is helpful in getting started. By laying it on the ground in the shape you like, you can test several different configurations before doing anything permanent with a shovel. When you’re happy with the way the outline of your pond looks, mark the outline with the shovel. When this is done, you can place the rope or hose out of the way and remove grass and topsoil where the pond will go.

If you’re using a rigid liner, set it upside down on the ground and mark the edge with the shovel, rope or hose before proceeding with grass and soil removal.

Are you planning to include fish? Even a small pond can support a few colorful goldfish or minnows during the warm months, but you’ll need a depth of at least three feet to help fish overwinter in cold climates (Zones 4 to 6). Two feet should be sufficient in warmer areas.

It’s also a good idea to stair-step the inside of the pond—shallow around the edge and deeper at the center. This creates a shelf for placement of aquatic plants in pots and deeper water that allows fish to thrive year-round. You’ll want to dig a shallow lip around the pool, too, where you can lay edging stones to make your pond more attractive and stabilize the bank. A little internet research should turn up numerous instructional videos, websites, books and other resources that provide step-by-step instructions.

Continue digging until you have a hole in the ground the shape and size you want it. Remove all rocks, roots and other items that could puncture the liner, then rake the hole smooth. Sand is now poured over the bottom to smooth it even more, then you can add a few layers of wet newspaper to cover all the rough spots before adding the liner. To make sure your pond is level, lay a two-by-four across the basin and put a carpenter’s level on it. Adjust as necessary, and if using a flexible liner, trim it so it extends only as far as the edging stones will lay.

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